Two Holocaust survivors from Florida, who have performed as a musical duo in New York, Las Vegas and elsewhere, returned to their native Poland this month to perform there for the first time.
Krakow-born Saul Dreier, 91, and Reuwen Sosnowicz, 89, played in an outdoor concert before some 500 people on Grzybowski Square, which was part of the Warsaw Ghetto, on July 26.
Polish television and radio stations broadcast the concert live, according to From the Depths, an organization that performs Holocaust commemoration work in Poland.
Dreier learned to play the drums in one of three concentration camps he survived; a cantor taught him to play using spoons, he said. Sosnowicz has been playing the accordion all his life.
For Sosnowicz, who was born in Warsaw, the trip marked his first visit to his native country since he left after the Holocaust. He was saved by Polish non-Jews who hid him.
“I am not happy to face the memories of the war, but I have to return before I go to heaven as an ambassador for peace, play my beautiful Jewish music and tell the world that we must all live in peace and that love and respect for each other will triumph hate and killing,” he said.
Both Sosnowicz and Dreier lost most of their family members in the Holocaust.
They started the Holocaust Survivor Klezmer and Multicultural Band in 2014.
In Poland, Sosnowicz and Dreier were scheduled to visit the Nazis’ two most heinous extermination camps, Auschwitz and Treblinka. Their plans included playing without an audience near at least one of the camps in memory of the people killed there. They also were scheduled to visit the Polish presidential palace and meet with several cabinet ministers.
At the Warsaw concert, they would share the stage with Muniek Staszczyk, one of Poland’s best-known rock stars.
From the Depths founder Jonny Daniels said his group helped raise some of the tour’s costs, so the two musicians can “share their message with thousands and make them their witnesses.” Giving them such an opportunity is vital, he said, because “the greatest generation, the generation of survivors, sadly is passing away.” — jta